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3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

Posted on: June 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 7:34 pm
 
When the Indians stumbled, they let other teams back into the American League Central race.

But how many teams?

The Tigers have spent the last two days in a virtual tie with the Indians, so obviously they're in it.

The White Sox have the best record in the division over the last 37 days (22-13), and they're now just 3 1/2 games out of first place. So no matter what anyone said last month, they're obviously in it, too.

But what about the Twins? They're still nine games out, which only looks good because 11 days ago they were 16 1/2 games out. They're still 13 games under .500, which only looks good because 11 days ago they were 20 games under.

The players  who are out of the Twins lineup still look better than the players who are in the lineup, but that changes when Joe Mauer comes back (maybe as soon as Thursday). Justin Morneau, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, Denard Span and Tsuyoshi Nishioka are all on the way back, too.

I never thought the White Sox were out of it, even when they were 10 games out in early May. I did think the Twins were out of it . . . but now I'm starting to wonder.

I thought the big series this week would be Indians at Tigers, but now I'm starting to think White Sox at Twins could end up mattering just as much.

Either way, this should be a fascinating week in the Central.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. If there's one thing that separates the Tigers from the other contenders, it's that no one else in the Central has an ace as dependable as Justin Verlander. Verlander has been at least a 17-game winner in four of his first five big-league seasons, and he's headed there again. The Tigers have won six of his last seven starts, beginning with his May 7 no-hitter and heading into his start in Indians at Tigers, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Verlander is 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA in that span. Compare that with Justin Masterson, Cleveland's Tuesday starter, who hasn't won since April (despite a 3.79 ERA in his last eight starts).

2. The Yankees spent the first part of the weekend talking about who would fill in for Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning. They spent the last part of the weekend talking about who would fill in for Bartolo Colon in the rotation. Chamberlain (Tommy John surgery) will be out longer than Colon (left hamstring strain), but finding someone who can do what Colon has done figures to be tougher than finding someone who can do what Chamberlain has done. The Yankees have yet to name a starter for Rangers at Yankees, Thursday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium, which is the next time Colon's spot in the rotation comes up. It's also the day Chamberlain has his surgery, and the day C.J. Wilson faces the Yankees for the first time since he lost Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Oh, and it's Derek Jeter's last chance to get his 3,000th hit at home, barring a long slump on the upcoming trip to play the Cubs and Reds. For what it's worth, Jeter is 5-for-14 (.357) against Wilson in the regular season, but went 1-for-7 against him in last year's ALCS.

3. Without Mauer, Twins catchers have had the worst OPS in baseball (.495, with an incredible .184 batting average). Without Mauer, the middle of the order has been a big problem for the Twins, along with the middle of the infield and the middle of the bullpen. No matter how well the Twins have played recently -- three wins in four games over the weekend against the Rangers, nine wins in their last 11 games overall -- there's no chance the Twins get back in the AL Central race without Mauer, who may be back for White Sox at Twins, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Target Field.



Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 19, 2012 9:09 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 8:24 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:39 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:31 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:35 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:42 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition




Since: Nov 27, 2011
Posted on: November 27, 2011 4:35 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition



Tomly
Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:44 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:12 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition




Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: June 14, 2011 7:16 am
 

3 to Watch: The Central showdown(s) edition

Don't ever count out the Twins.  When the Tigers swept the Twins and dropped them to 17-37, I thought that they were done.  But what do they do...win 9 out of their last 11.  And with Mauer coming back....  The Twins are like cockroaches, they don't die.  As much as I would like to see my Tigers win the division, I don't know if they have enough hitting to actually win it. 

Cleveland is a lot better than people let on, but they are young so I don't see them hanging on and winning the division.  CWS were my pick at the beginning of the year and they are playing much better now.  Still think they are the team to beat in Central.  For the Tigers to win, they need Maggs to be the Maggs of old and they need Raburn to hit like Raburn hit in the 2nd half of the last two seasons.  Cabrera and Martinez are studs.  Avila and Peralta are playing over their heads and Boesch cant be counted on to continue to produce as he has so far (i.e. see last year).  Starting pitching has been pretty good.  Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello are solid.  Penny and Coke are hit and miss.  Tigers need Benoit to start to pitch better.  Furbush and Alburquerque have been nice additions to pen.  Go Tigers!!!



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